Aristos and Family history

Siberechts-Longleat HouseHave you caught the TV series about Longleat House and the Thynn family on the BBC? Its called All Change at Longleat and had me gripped as we witnessed the tensions that revolve around the eccentric Marquess of Bath and his son and daughter-in-law who have taken over the running of the house and estate.

Lord Bath, we discover, has handed over the control of the £190 million estate to his son, Ceawlin, but the handover isn’t going smoothly. Ceawlin, whose title is Lord Weymouth but only uses this on formal occasions, prefers to be known by his first name. With such an uncommon name as this I am sure that he is never mistaken for one of the members of the lower echelons of society.

In the first programme in the series we find out that Ceawlin has upset his father by removing some of the murals painted by the latter in the apartments where they had all lived once lived and the pair are no longer on speaking terms. In the village on the estate, there’s further unrest after Ceawlin puts up the villagers’ rents.

Meanwhile, Ceawlin’s glamorous wife Emma is settling into life at Longleat as Lady Weymouth.

In the safari park, the animal keepers wonder how Ceawlin will compare to his father. Lord Bath is still a flamboyant, controversial figure and the village fair allows the viewer to witness the awkwardness of  a meeting between the son and his father. Although now in retirement, the Marquess continues to enjoy a famously open marriage. Various ‘wifelets’ still visit when his wife is away.

46 Longleat house (70)

For me the most telling part was when Ceawlin was asked whether his childhood was a happy one, growing up at Longleat. There was quite a pause as he considered what his answer should be, then he tellingly said “Happy bits and not so happy bits.” Another pause and “it was what it was.”

He admitted that as a child he would definitely have preferred to have lived in a cottage in the village like most of his friends did. We heard how, in his teenage years, members of the public traipsed not just through the main house but also through the private apartment where he lived.

For those of us from a less privileged background, who may have occasionally dreamed of life in the upper classes, then this insight into one such family may make us realise that the grass is definitely never greener on the the other side of the hill.

 

Many more of us than we think may be descended from aristocratic ancestors. Be it from junior lines that have fallen away from the main family, to those who are fruits of liaisons between an aristocrat and another.

If you want to explore this fascinating part of family history research then Pen and Sword books have published Anthony Adolph’s book: Tracing Your Aristocratic Ancestors.

Tracing Your Aristocratic AncestorsClick this link to read more:

http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/Tracing-Your-Aristocratic-Ancestors/p/3827?aid=1101

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Family History Research finds moved house

Sous L'Eglise Summer holiday time can be a great opportunity to look at the places where your ancestors lived.

Quite often I have used time visiting an area to walk down the streets where my ancestors footsteps went before me and just imagining how it would have been in their day.

I will have often have prepared for such a trip beforehand. In most cases using the census collections and copies of trade directories to”get a feel” for the location in their era.

It is important to try and understand the social history of the town or area where our forebears lived, but what about our own history? Shouldn’t we try and document our times for those who follow?

As we grow older we constantly find that things have moved on, streets have changed, businesses have closed up, buildings demolished.

This week I was reminded of this fact by a visit from several cousins of mine to Jersey. A first cousin, his daughter plus fiancé, flew in from Canada, while a first cousin once removed, plus husband, came from the Midlands by plane. (If you find cousin relationships difficult to understand then check out my free report here.)

My elder cousin from Canada had memories of certain shops, that he had gone to with our grandparents and would have liked to have taken a trip to. The problem was that they had long since gone or changed in the intervening years.

We managed, however, to do many of the sites that had family associations for us; but I was still struck at how change in my own lifetime had crept up on my local environment. From the reclamation of land for a cinema, swimming-pool complex, 5 star hotel and housing apartments, which now replaces the beach where my science teacher had taken the class to learn some hands-on Marine Biology, to the house by the airport where my younger cousin (now based in England) had once lived as a child.

This was to be a great story as the Georgian farmhouse had been demolished, as new regulations deemed it to be too close to the airport runway. In actual fact there had been a dreadful air crash when my cousins lived in it, but she and her mother were thankfully away from the house at the time. In the fog a light aircraft had flown into said building with the loss of the pilot’s life.

Yesterday we took a trip to the site of the demolished house and walked around the footprint of the building. It was an eerie feeling as we picked our way over the old foundations.

I noticed the former garden still had flowers and plant bushes in it that indicted its past life as a formal front garden. These hardy specimens fighting through the weeds and wild foliage that aimed to sometime soon take control.

The happy ending to this piece is that the house was demolished stone-by-stone and it has sprung up again in restored Georgian glory as the cladding to a replica house a few miles down the road! The project is ongoing and the people behind it have a website here:  http://savethelistedbuilding.com/

Yesterday we were privileged to be allowed to visit the house’s new site and my cousin, who had once lived within its granite structure, was delighted with the restoration and the positive ambience of its new location.

 

Think of those who will come after us, what stories can we leave them about our times?

To download my guide to Cousins, Step-mothers and Half-brothers click on this link.

 

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Second World War Merchant Navy Officers in the Family Tree

 

Merchant Seaman's Records
Merchant Seaman’s Records

This holiday period I was catching up with my copies of Your Family Tree Magazine (January 2014 Issue 137). On page 44 I began reading an article all about how one of their readers found the troop ship that took her father to war by doing a bit of detective work with the few pieces of the puzzle that she had.

The reader, Jackie Dinnis who blogs about her family history at www.jackiedinnis.wordpress.com, had a few photographs and his medals to go on and, crucially, a letter written by her father from the unnamed troopship.

In the note, to his mother, he tells of being entertained by an orchestra conducted by a popular British dance band-leader called Geraldo. By doing some research online Jackie found that Geraldo and his Orchestra had been going to the Middle East and North Africa in 1943 to entertain the troops. It required several other bits of information to name the troopship. Facts, that tied the dates of departure up with the detail that this band were on board, eventually named the troopship as the Dominion Monarch.

Now this is where her father’s story overlaps with my father’s story.

As I have written elsewhere in this blog about obtaining my dad’s merchant navy records he was a young purser’s clerk on board the former liner and wartime troopship the Dominion Monarch.

As I read this at Christmas, while staying with him, I asked if he remembered the concert by Geraldo. Sadly he didn’t, though I can confirm that he was on board for that voyage from a look at his MN papers, but he had other story’s to tell of life on board the ship and its convoy passages across the oceans.

Then we fast-forward to Christmas day and one of those games that get played at the dinner table when the family are gathered together. My sister’s mother-in-law picked a card that asked “What is the most surprising thing that has happened in your life?” In turn we all gave our answers and then it was my father’s turn.

“To have survived,” was his answer. And when asked what he meant, he elaborated a little: “being at sea in the war.”

Then, this week, I was able to watch with him the programme on PQ17 the disastrous Arctic convoy. It was not a route that he sailed, though he was empathising with the crews that were so sorely deserted by the Admiralty’s decision to withdraw Naval protection and issue the Scatter signal.

And finally, this week, I was checking in at Facebook to find that some of my younger first-cousins-once-removed, had been looking at their grandfather’s Merchant Navy ID card and receiving a history lesson from their parents over the New Year. The awe with which they were learning about young men (both my Uncle and Father served in the Shaw Savill Line) who had gone to sea at a time when a torpedo from a U-boat may have prematurely ended their lives, was fitting.

So this Christmas and New Year has, unintentionally, taken on a Merchant Navy theme for me. Family history is great!

 

 

Your Family Tree Magazine is one of my favourite magazines:



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Happy Christmas for Famliy Tree Researchers

 

Thorne Family togetherTo all readers of this blog I’d like to wish a very Happy Christmas.

Remember to keep your ears open, at this time of year when families come together, for any stories that can be useful when investigating your family tree.

I’ve already experiences a few reminiscences this week, some I am sure are a little bit exaggerated, but all worth a bit of investigation. These tales can often point you in a general direction and then you need to find out if they are correct by checking the primary sources. There is always the chance that the stories have grown over the years into the “received truth” with embellishments made for the telling or plain misremembering of the situation.

For some family history researchers Christmas time may be the only opportunity they get to gently question their senior family members about times past; but just as moderation in all things is a good motto to try and live by, don’t over do the questioning and end up making parents and grandparents think that they are being interrogated!

Have a very merry and peaceful Christmas.

Nick

The Nosey Genealogist

 

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Famil Tree DNA Tests

 

FDA_microbiologist_prepares_DNA_samples_for_gel_electrophoresis_analysisNot so long ago we just never heard of DNA being used in everyday situations. And then suddenly every detective story on TV seemed to mention the suspect’s DNA being collected from the crime scene.

In the world of family history, DNA has also emerged into the main stream. Today if you want to prove that you are descended from a certain line then you may be able to use genetics to prove it.

But then there is the shorthand that is used that can confuse us a little. You may have heard people talking about “snips” or SNPs and STRs and wondered what this has to do with anything!

I will now attempt to explain what I myself was uncertain of until I attended one of the talks by an academic at last year’s Who Do You Think You Are? Live show and then found it explained again in chapter 12 of Anthony Adolph’s book Tracing Your Aristocratic Ancestors. Pen and Sword 2013

Chromosomes are made up of special proteins and DNA. DNA is composed of numerous base-pairs of nucleotides all arranged in a double-helix shape.

In every human cell there is a nucleus that contains twenty-two pairs of chromosomes that bear autosomal DNA and one pair that decides on the gender of the human. The two sets of chromosomes are reduced down to one in a process of myosis that produces eggs in females and sperm in males.

When a man and a woman have a child the male passes on the one set of his chromosomes and mixes with the female’s one set and so the next generation inherits from its parents.

It is a complex process that causes some slight changes or mutations which are known as genetic polymorphisms. Some of these mutations include single nucleotide polymorphisms which are often abbreviated to the letters SNPs.

A single tandem repeat is known as a STR.

SNPs and STRs do not, it is believed by the scientists who understand such things, carry any useful codes needed in the creation of ourselves, but they are there.

 

Individual genes have two or more possible states of being and these are usually referred to by the letters A or T and C or G.

An SNP is a change detected in a gene’s state of being from, say, A to G and you may see it being called a “unique event polymorphism”. Once a SNP has occurred it will now stay the same as it is passed down the generations and so you can see how this can act as a reliable marker for “deep ancestry” haplogroup testing.

 

So what about STRs?

 

They are a bit different. STRs occur in a different part of the chromosome and they are a series of multiple changes caused by the addition or subtraction of the number of base-pairs. So by counting these base-pairs the DNA company get to a numerical code. The great thing about these mutations is that they occur over a shorter time than the SNPs do and so they can change over shorter spans of generations.

 

Y-STRs are taken specifically from the male Y chromosome and are only passed down by the father, making the Y chromosome in any paternal line practically identical.

What we are presented with is two complementary sets of results: SNPs define a person’s haplogroup, or the group of people that share the same markers that can go back many thousand of years. The second is the smaller group of people that share the same STRs who are related to each other over the last couple of thousand years or less.

 

The second exception is mitochondrial DNA (mt-DNA). This is only passed down from a mother to her child, but which only her daughters will pass on. This means that we have a definite marker for the female-line, in other words the mother’s mother’s mother’s (and so on) family.

As we get closer to Christmas I have noticed that www.familytreedna.com are offering money off their packages for the holiday season. Do you know anyone who would like to have a present of a DNA test as it would seem to be a good time to buy?

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7,000 new naval war records from The Battle of Jutland online

7,000 new naval war records from The Battle of Jutland now available to view in the ‘Roll of Honour’ collection on TheGenealogist!

I was looking at a family tree this week that recorded a family who had lost a number of their children in the late 1890s and then again a son in the First World War. To have him survive through to adulthood and then to lose him to enemy action must have seemed cruel fate to his parents.

Although some of my ancestors served in the Royal Navy I am not aware of any that took part in the Battle of Jutland, but for any of you that know your ancestors participated in the largest naval battle of the First World War, then this new data set is a must.

This week I’ve been told by my friends at TheGenealogist.co.uk that they have made available 7,000 new naval war records from that battle.

Here is what the team at TheGenealogist said about this new release…

 

Did your ancestor participate in the largest naval battle of The First World War? Now available to Gold and Diamond subscribers to TheGenealogist is a full record set of the Royal Navy servicemen killed or wounded in the Battle of Jutland. TheGenealogist is the only family history site to provide a complete specialist section devoted to these battle records.

After a number of smaller naval engagements in the first two years of World War One, the Battle of Jutland was the first major naval battle involving the large dreadnought battleships on both sides. Involving 250 ships and around 100,000 men it was the major naval military battle of the First World War.

After breaking German code, the British knew of the German plan to try to destroy the British fleet in two engagements and so left port to use the element of surprise and catch the German fleet off the coast of Denmark. What was hoped to be a decisive British victory turned into a confused and bloody battle with many British casualties.

The Royal Navy lost 14 ships and suffered nearly 7,000 casualties. The Germans lost 11 ships and 2,551 men. Confused leadership and poor quality ammunition hindered the Royal Navy in the battle and the losses shook morale in Britain at the time.

The new Battle of Jutland records provide a full list of the men killed or wounded in the battle with their rank, name of ship and date of death taken from official Admiralty sources. Records of the men lost range from Rear Admiral Robert Arbuthnot, commander of the 1st Cruiser Squadron who went down with his flagship HMS Defence, to 16 year old Jack Rutland who although mortally wounded stayed at his post on board the damaged HMS Chester.

Although the losses were heavy, the Royal Navy was still a major fighting force and the German fleet never put to sea again in such large numbers to challenge British sea superiority.

Available to view in the ‘Roll of Honour’ section of the Military Records on TheGenealogist, the records are taken from the Battle of Jutland ‘New Perspective’ publication which studied the battle in detail.

Mark Bayley, Head of Online Content at TheGenealogist comments: “As we near one hundred years since the start of the First World War, TheGenealogist has added further unique records to its already extensive military collections.”

 

The Genealogist - UK census, BMDs and more online

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WWI ships sunk files now on line

 

I was drawn to a memorial in an old municipal cemetery, this week, for a sailor who had drowned in some foreign sea. His name had been added to those of his parents, whose grave it was, and it struck me that it must have been hard for his family to have no place to mourn for him, as he was lost at sea. Perhaps that was why they had commemorated him on a family gravestone.

 

I have been using the Naval History website at http://www.naval-history.net to find out more about the Royal Navy in the Great War and then this week I got a notification from Findmypast that they had just published some fascinating new military records online, in partnership with The National Archives.

 

Findmypast say: “Over 500 British Royal Navy ships were lost at sea during the First World War. Thanks to these new records, you can now discover more about the vessels that were destroyed.

“The WW1 Ships Lost at Sea records are available on all Findmypast websites and can provide the following information:

 

·         Ship name

·         Date it was destroyed

·         Number of officers killed or wounded

·         How and where it was destroyed

 

 findmypast example of WWI Royal Navy Ships lost at sea

 

For more information and to search the records, please visit http://search.findmypast.co.uk/search-united-kingdom-records/military-armed-forces-and-conflict/ww1-ships-lost-at-sea-1914-1919

 

 

As we get closer to the centenary of the start of the First World War we can only expect to see more and more records made available to researchers to mark its grim anniversary.



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Lost Myself in Parish Records Online

 

St Nicholas', Gloucester Parish Records are at County Record Office I have spent a good few hours this week lost in Parish Records transcripts looking for a couple of different families on behalf of friends who wanted some help breaking through their respective brick walls.

One of good things, about the times in which we live, is that more and more Parish Records are becoming available to us online.

Only this week TheGenealogist has announced that they have uploaded another large number of transcripts to their site and this plus what can be found at Ancestry, Findmypast or FamilySearch means that as the evenings draw in I can lose myself in these essential data sets as I try to get branches of my own family back another generation.

Any way, here is that announcement from TheGenealogist:

TheGenealogist has continued to add to its extensive collection of parish records with the release of almost 385,000 new individual record transcripts covering a wide variety of counties in England. The records cover the period from the mid 1500s to 2005.

This major addition of baptisms, marriages and burials include many famous and also notorious ancestors. In our Essex records, we uncovered the family history of shadowy highwayman, Dick Turpin, born in Hempstead, Essex, baptised in 1705, as Richardus Turpin, in the same parish where his parents had married. He started life as a butcher, but came into contact with the ‘Essex Gang’ and embarked on more clandestine, criminal activities.

 

The new Parish records give details of his early family life with his brother and two sisters in the early 1700s. Tracking him down proves easier now than the authorities experienced at the time! He subsequently changed his name to John Palmer, but after a lengthy time evading capture, his real life and identity as a poacher, burglar, horse thief and killer was exposed following a letter Turpin wrote to his brother in law and he was executed in 1739, but his legend continues to this day.

 

The new parish records added cover the counties of Bedfordshire, Devon, Essex, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Middlesex, Rutland, Shropshire and Westmoreland, it’s an addition of a substantial amount of individuals around the country. The newly added records cover a range of baptisms, marriages and burials in these counties.

 

Mark Bayley, Head of Development at TheGenealogist comments:

”We are committed to constantly adding new records to the website. The new parish records are a continued response to our customers requests for more parish records and pre-1837 information. We’ve got much more in the pipeline coming through in the next few months. You may find your own Dick Turpin in the records!”

 

The latest parish record releases are part of a concerted ongoing project on TheGenealogist with many more Parish Records due in early 2014.

 

 

The Genealogist - UK census, BMDs and more online

 

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Middle Names in Family Tree Research

 

Thorne family from Dartmouth, Devon. I’ve been helping an old friend starting out in researching their family history in this week and he had noted that some of his family all had the same middle name.

The question, that he had, was would it be likely that it was a family surname from one of the female lines and being passed down to honour that family connection.

From what research I have done, by reading around, it would seem that  it was quite common for children to be baptised with a second name taken from a family surname that was, perhaps, the mother’s or grandmother’s maiden surname.

Mark Herber, in Ancestral Trials, The History Press; New Ed edition (1 Jun 2005) makes this point when introducing genealogical research in chapter 1 of this comprehensive book. But hold on a minute, before you jump to the conclusion that the name you have found must be attributable to another branch of your family.

In the picture, that I have included here, from a Thorne family bible  just one of that generation were given names that honoured their forebears surnames and that was Ellen Florence Malzer Thorne, the Malzer name being her mother’s maiden name.

The generation before (Henry Thomas Thorne’s siblings)  were given a variety of conventional second names until the family broke with the C of E and became members of the Flavel Memorial (Presbyterian/Independent/Congregational) church.

At this stage several of Henry’s brothers and sisters were baptised with the middle name of Lemon. I am yet to understand who they were being named after so if any of my readers can put me on the right path then post a comment below or on my facebook page: www.facebook.com/NoseGenealogist

Certainly the parents of these children, John Brandon Thorn and Elizabeth Gardiner Thorn, were usefully named after their mothers and so made the search for them in the parish records all the easier.

So the conclusion is that an unusual middle name may point you to the maiden name of your ancestor or, regretfully, it may not!

 

Another point, that I have noticed, is that people may adopt a middle name and later generations begin passing it on as they assume it to be an ancestral name. Perhaps it was someone that they admired greatly, or perhaps it was indeed a family name.

For someone I was researching this week I discovered that they were not given a middle name in the church register when they were baptised and yet they begin to use this middle name and so do the generations that followed. Perhaps it was someone that they admired greatly, but it was certainly not noted in the parish register at the time of their baptism!

My research this week has been greatly helped by the fact that more parish records have made it online. My friend’s family were from the Birmingham area of Northfields. Now very much a suburb of Birmingham but in the years I was researching between 1769 and 1820 part of the county of Worcestershire.

Ancestry.co.uk have many records available for this area including the images of parish records from a partnership with the Library of Birmingham.



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